My 2002 Accord EX 2.3L is officially an old age car; I don't fix everything that goes wrong any more, but the list of things that I haven't fixed now has some annoying things on it that might be related to each other.

  1. Drinks oil at the rate of 4 quarts/500-1000 miles. (Bad rings, probably, no leaks, lots of smoke when I accelerate while it's cold. Oil changes have been too sparse, probably.)
  2. I have to "Use the JUJU" to get the key to turn from the off position. If I push in as I try to turn the key, it won't turn.
  3. (maybe related to 1 or 2) I quite often have problems starting it, I hear a light click, but either there is no other sound, or a slight cranking. My leading theory is both key switch and starter or excessive engine friction. I have to turn the switch to ACC or OFF and back to start to get it to start.
  4. My heater/AC blower for the interior is clicky (a tick, once a revolution, it sounds like).
  5. High speed on that blower is sometimes half speed/ three quarters speed, or even not running at all, but if it's not running, it may click on. Otherwise, the speed that shows up when I start the car is consistent throughout the car ride.

I have been an avid listener to NPR's "Car Talk", (RIP Tom, thanks for the laughs) so I have theories, but it's only in the percentages.

I think that a leading candidate is bad key switch assembly, but does that fix all four of the last ones, or do I have a severe engine friction issue, starter, or debris in the blower too? (Haven't gotten into the blower yet... on the first attempt I couldn't find the right driver for the screw, maybe torx, but it looked philipsy.) How many problems do I have in this list? I'm in the "save for the next car" mode, since a different model would suit my needs better at this point, so I want to fix what I can myself and fix only things that are annoying.

And yes, this is the classic old fussy car question, if it lasts a year, I'd be OK, if it lasts two, I'd be quite happy.

EDIT: (bottom line) Do I have this diagnosed properly? 80% chance it's just an old engine plus a bad key switch which is the only thing causing the other 3 operational issues. Also do any of my alternate theories hold water? Could debris in the blower cause it to act so erratically, is there any such thing as "excessive friction" in the engine that prevents the starter from turning the engine over? How hard is it to replace that switch in an accord? (Wear a helmet, yes yes, check. hah.)

  • What exactly is your question here? Aug 24, 2016 at 15:22
  • 4 and 5 could be bad battery connection. 1 is serious. If its not leaking, and you are burning it, then your engine is in pretty bad condition. Not sure on 2, have to take it apart and see what's going on. Are you using the original key? do you have a second key? 4 might just be something stuck in there. Need to open it up and see.
    – rpmerf
    Aug 24, 2016 at 16:15
  • Would a compression test be a reasonably cheap step to insure that I'm not about to be left at the side of the road? I just read an engine article and read that cracked and or holes in a piston might not immediately kill the engine. that's actually more frightening...
    – BenPen
    Aug 24, 2016 at 16:29

1 Answer 1


Number 1; Oil consumption. That's a lot of oil. Start looking for a new vehicle!

2 and 3 are related. It could be a worn key; call the dealer and ask them to cut a new key (or try a spare key if you have one). If it's the switch, it's unlikely that you'll get one from a junkyard with a matching key. Talk to the dealer.

4 and 5 are related. Replace the ventilation controls with one from a junkyard.

If you can't get a replacement engine cost-effectively, I'd suggest living with the problems until you can get a new car.

  • Thanks! I agree, a lot of oil. I wasn't thinking that the non starting part of 3) could be caused by a key, but I do have a barely used key I could swap out to see what happens.
    – BenPen
    Aug 24, 2016 at 16:01
  • In regards to #1: The engine will continue to run as long as you keep oil in it. The downsides being all the extra money spent on oil, and spark plugs that will foul earlier than usual. OP will have to calculate the cost of all the extra oil until something else finally fails vs monthly payments on a healthy car, minus the stress of an an ailing auto. Aug 24, 2016 at 16:08
  • Now that's interesting... I haven't noticed my spark plugs fouling. Seems to run fine, if a bit more sluggish on the low end, even though it's been loosing oil at a merry (though increasing) rate for a couple years. But burning that much oil takes focus to keep up with...
    – BenPen
    Aug 24, 2016 at 18:40
  • 1
    RIP Honda 2002 EX. Taken down by two failed cylinders, likely burnt valves they say, because of the zero compression. Blower motor replaced fixed the blower issues, new starter fixed the starting issues, and graphite in the ignition hole fixed the difficulties turning the ignition switch. The oil consumption got bad, and when the cat died, the smoke was bad. Now for the new car...
    – BenPen
    Sep 19, 2017 at 18:30
  • 1
    The oil consumption and smoke is what killed the cat, it was more than it could possibly reduce, and it burned itself out trying. And the dead cat killed the OBD II. That's what happens when you don't maintain vehicles. Jul 22, 2021 at 1:06

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